National Gathering 2019 Open Space
By Wendi Bernau
You know how sometimes those informal conversations that pop up around the refreshment table or informally in the parking lot are actually the best part of the whole conference? Open Space makes those kinds of conversations intentional. The conversations are led by the participants themselves on the topics of conversation that light them up. Let’s say you are a cancer survivor or in recovery. Something in you yearns to connect with someone who has a similar experience. Maybe you have questions you’d like to ask, support you’d like to offer, or thoughts to reflect upon, but at a conference you find yourself in a room full of virtual strangers. How do you find those who share your passion without being too self-revealing to everyone you meet? You host an Open Space conversation and gather your tribe. There’s no big commitment. No one is the expert; no one prepares a speech. The host and participants simply show up for conversation on topics of interest and passion. Missional Wisdom National Gathering helps people make connections. Open Space is a powerful tool for finding those with whom we most want to connect.
Behold, I am making all things new. Rev, 21:5
“We are invited out of our comfortable sitting-at-tables locations of choice and into a circle around the perimeter of the sanctuary. Suddenly dodge ball fears rise and body language says ‘Uh-oh, something new’ in plenty of the participants. Wendi guarantees we will like Open Spaces, so we trust and obey. Her explanations are clear and encouraging. We settle into agreeing that having twenty opportunities to share with fellow pilgrims on twenty topics is a great plan. We wait, we watch, we volunteer, we are filled with wonder. The new is exciting and we are indeed fed over our three days together, gathering. In contrast, stepping into what is familiar for this group, Eucharist and Taizé, needs little explanation and we wear it happily, like wonderful old jeans. May we remember to invite new pilgrims into what we know as traditions-often-experienced with this same tender loving care of presenting new things to experienced pilgrims.” –Laurie Sandblom, NG participant